Highway Construction

Highway Construction

The administration has passed orders to District Commissioners to bar constructions on the highways. This is a good step that needs to be followed up in both letter and spirit. Highways need to have a smooth flow of traffic. Construction on highways impedes this flow and is a potential cause of not only traffic disruptions but also fatal accidents. Ideally, smooth flow of traffic on highways enhances and improves efficiency of commerce and productivity thereof. This assumes salience in a context where there are glitches to the smooth flow of commerce. But, there might be concerns regarding implementation of this order. If a parallel may be drawn with an order of a similar nature then the concern might be valid. This pertains to the order of non conversion of agricultural land in Kashmir. Orders were issued by past administrations that agricultural in land cannot and should not be converted into either residential or commercial purposes. But, in practice, it was observed that the order was brazenly flouted and observed in the breach. The reasons pertained to the manic urge and demand for land in Kashmir by a range of assorted persons and parties. While land is a factor of production , in Kashmir, it has become commoditized and viewed as not only as an investible resource but a tradable commodity for massive pecuniary gains. All this has led to a burgeoning demand for land and thus massive increase in the price of land. Individuals and groups then vie intensely for buying whatever land is available. This trend, among other things, leads to scams and other related insalubrious developments. A corollary of this was the unabated conversion of agricultural land which has far reaching implications and consequences. The same, albeit, in a different context, holds true for land along the highways rendered more lucrative for obvious reasons. Now that the administration has issued orders to bar construction on the highway, methods and mechanisms must be devised to ensure vigorous implementation of this order. These must include vigorous monitoring, accountability , transparency and oversight mechanisms that ensure that land alongside the highways must remain as it is. Moreover, the public should be educated over the perils of building and construction along highways. In combination, clean and safe highways can be ensured and a public good implemented in both letter and spirit.


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